Yuan Chai
Agro-economist
CFANS Interdisciplinary Initiative, University of Minnesota

Biography

Yuan Chai, a Chinese national, received his MS degree in plant pathology and his PhD in applied economics, both at the University of Minnesota. As a pathologist he studied rust resistance genetics in barley. As an economist his research focuses on agricultural innovation, production, productivity, and the bio-economics of crop varietal change and production risk. He creates and applies fit-for-purpose bio-economic models to assess the consequences of and the strategies used by farmers in coping with production risks arising from climate- or pest-induced pressures on agriculture. His work pays particular attention to the fact that specific risk profiles faced by farmers can vary markedly depending on their geographic circumstances due to the intrinsic site-specific attributes of the biological and environmental processes involved. To cope with agricultural risks, farmers rely on a number of technical and institutional options, including a variety of farm management practices, fertilizer and pesticide use, irrigation, disease monitoring, as well as crop insurance. Yuan’s research focuses on the role of these various risk management strategies to improve innovation investment and deployment strategies, public policies, and farmer outcomes, with the overarching objective of sustainably securing global food supplies.